Church of Ireland Bishops Issue Pastoral Letter on Same Sex Marriages
The Church of Ireland includes both the Republic of Ireland where civil marriage for same sex couples is legal and Northern Ireland where it is not. The Bishops of the Church created a common pastoral letter
to be issued by each individual bishop. The letter notes that the church has no authorized liturgies for blessing same sex unions or for same sex marriage and thus clergy may not preside at marriages. It notes, that priests can certainly attend weddings or offer a couple blessings in a pastoral setting. Clergy thinking of seeking a civil marriage with their same sex partner are urged to discuss the matter with their bishop and consider forbearance in the interests of unity. The letter is not likely to settle issues for the church.
Local Parish Caught Up in Oregon Protest
Burns, Oregon, currently in the news because an armed group has occupied a building at the nearby National Park is home to a joint Episcopal/Lutheran parish. (The New York Times
has a good background piece
on the situation in Burns.) Parishioners were very uneasy when a member of the occupying group attending Sunday services walked out in the middle of the sermon. The priest had just criticized the use of guns against other humans. Episcopal Cafe
became aware of the situation when Provisional Bishop Nedi Rivera passed along an "urgent" prayer request to the "Daily Office"
Blog from the parish pastor.
Kentucky Priest Resigns Parish Rather than follow Vestry's Wishes to Allow Same Sex Marriages
The rector of Calvary Church, Louisville, Kentucky resigned December 23 because of pressure from his vestry to allow same sex marriages at the church. The rector, Jonathan Erdman, directed same-sex couples to the cathedral in Louisville if they wished to marry. This did not satisfy the vestry. Erdman's resignation letter
also criticizes Bishop Terry White for not supporting him. Conservative blogs
and the Living Church
are using the incident to suggest that the statements in the General Convention legislation passed this summer ensuring no one would be punished or forced to resign because of their position on same sex marriage were a sham. What is clear is that there was an irreconcilable difference between a vestry and a rector.
Scottish Episcopal Church Voices More Dismay Over Agreement Between Churches of England and Scotland
Last week's Pittsburgh Update carried a story
on an agreement between the Church of England and the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), and concern voiced by the Episcopal Church of Scotland which was blindsided by the announcement of the agreement. Now the Episcopal Church of Scotland has articulated its concerns more fully. They feel that the Church of England over-reached its authority in making an agreement in Scotland. You can read their full statement here
Tensions On the Rise As Meeting of Primates Nears
As the January 16 date nears for the meeting of primates called by Archbishop of Canterbury, posturing and speculation about what will happen has grown. This last week the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom carried a piece
highlighting threats of the primates associated with GAFCON to walk out if the meeting does not denounce same sex marriage and throw out the Episcopal Church and the Anglican church of Canada. They have rejected Archbishop Welby's idea of an Anglican Communion with much looser ties between members. Christopher Brittain, a Scottish professor, weighed in with a piece
on the ABC network using game theory to suggest that the outcome of the meeting will probably result in a minor stop-gap type proposal, and Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has published a piece
in the Modern Church suggesting the GAFCON position commits a semi- Pelagian heresy. This is just a sampling of what has been published already. Expect more in the coming week.
Sign of the Times in Texas
In wake of the Texas laws approving both open and concealed carrying of weapons, the break-away diocese in fort Worth headed by bishop Iker has issued a policy
on open carrying of weapons. All Churches are to ban open carrying and post a sign forbidding it. The policy does not address concealed weapons except to say that people with concealed weapons permits should not be considered a private security force for churches.